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Hi everyone,

I have had my road bike for 18 months. After a few months of purchase I bought a Decathlon chain measurement tool, used it regularly and was pretty good about cleaning and oiling the chain.

I am 186cm tall and weigh 70 kilos and ride perhaps 40-50 miles a week. I was quite surprised that my chain wear tool was telling me after about 10 months that I needed a new chain. I procrastinated for maybe a month, and then got my act together on Boxing Day last year. I could have replaced a little earlier, but I do not think I trashed the cassette.

So, the new chain (KMC 8-speed, £8 from Decathlon) has been on the bike for just over seven months now. My chain wear tool is showing that there is still room for the tool to drop i.e. it is not lying flat on the chain. Doing a 12-inch steel rule test today, however, suggests that I should think about replacing the chain, because the chain has lengthened by the width of a pin, which is 1/8 of an inch, Leonard Zinn in his Road Bike Maintenance book says that when the lengthening is 1/8 of an inch or more, the chain needs replacing.

So Decathlon's tool says I have a little more life in the chain, but a ruler test says I should replace it now. I guess I must have done in 7 months about 1250  miles on the chain.

Does this mileage seem a little low? Zinn says that a heavy rider might only get 1000-1500 miles from a chain, but a light rider who doesn't clean the chain could get 2-3000 miles or 5000 miles if he looks after the chain.

I look after the chain (oil regularly), and do not stand up on the peddles. I do a lot of gear changes according to terrain, traffic and when I am coming to a stop (easier to burn off from the lights in a higher gear).

At 70 kg am I a "heavy rider", or should I be buying more expensive chains? Or should I see an £8 chain as a 6-7 month consumable and put a new chain on well within the wear period to protect the cassette?

Cheers

roadbikepilgrim

30 comments

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ktache [1952 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes

I like nice chains.  I really like nice cassettes.  I try and change my chains before they need to be changed to try and extend the life of my cassette.

The 8 speed is a fairly solid thing, more speeds mean quicker wear and more expensive chains and cassettes.  Think yourself a bit lucky.

Cleaning helps, I have been abiding by the KMC advice against using a brush and solvent scrubber, and wipe very well before lubrication.  I do seem to get a little less of the grinding when twisting the chains, who knows, I still use my Park scrubber on my SRAM chain.

 

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Joe Totale [174 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

I'd continue using the £8 KMC chains, more expensive ones wil only be marginally better/lighter. 

As stated above, change the chain before it needs to be changed and you extend the life of the other parts of the drivechain. I personally treat chains as being consumables, with that mentality it stops other drivetrain parts such as cassettes being consumables as well. 

Good maintenance can extend the life of a chain along with only riding in dry conditions, of course realistically this won't always happen. 

At 70kg you aren't a particularly heavy rider.

 

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mike the bike [1252 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes

 

In an attempt to simplify my cycling, and life in general, I've dropped most of the recommended methods for maximising component life.  Keeping three chains permanently on the go to save ten quid on a cassette is a type of insanity I can do without.  

I now swap my chain and my cassette at the same time, about once a year, when gearshifts become a little rough.  They will have seen 4000-or-so miles and if the bike's on the workstand for the chain I might as well do the whole job.

And if it's costing me more than a few bob I'd be highly surprised.

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Xena [97 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

I’m 85 - 90kg No fat though .  I have use y ban self lube chains ,  I also have used the light more expensive kmc  chains .  I ride on my big ring only ( single chain ring).  Both these model chains have been perfect for 2- 3 years . I have a 3 year old y ban on my bike now and it’s still not worn . It is all relative to how much you shift . If you shift a lot then any chain will wear , it’s that simple . Light or heavy makes not that much difference. I do recommend the yban chains ( the super light ones I use ) you don’t really need to lube them and stay pretty much clean . I just take mine off if I get caught in the rain and give it a wipe with a baby wipe , other wise it stays clean and your cassette will stay clean , mine is spotless . You can pick the y ban chains up for less than £30  on eBay ,new.  That’s a top end chain super light . They do a titanium one has well which is even lighter . 

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srchar [1522 posts] 1 month ago
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mike the bike wrote:

Keeping three chains permanently on the go to save ten quid on a cassette is a type of insanity I can do without.

I came to the same conclusion some time ago. Keeping three chains on the go, religiously measuring wear and bagging each one up every 1,500km, just isn't worth my time to save a bit of money on cassettes.

Now, I just sling a KMC chain and a Veloce cassette on and change both of them when shifting gets a bit lazy, which seems to be every 5,000km, even with infrequent drivetrain cleaning.

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Not designed to... [9 posts] 1 month ago
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I'm 95-100kg and do anywhere between 50 and 200 miles a week from late spring to autumn. I shift gears quite a lot, especially on the inclines as I find my weight slows me down. I use 105 5800 drive train and keep it clean and lubricated pretty religiously. I tend to find my chain needs replacing every 7-800 miles due to stretch but have had the same cassette for 4000 miles or more now. Chain makes a noise when it's 'done' and there is a noticeable lack of noise when replaced.
I'm no expert though.

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Griff500 [432 posts] 1 month ago
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I am about the same height and weight as the OP. The only cleaning I do is a wipe with a rag (following the KMC advice not to use solvents). I lube with Mucoff ceramic every ride. Typical ride is 50 miles with 1000m of elevation gain, and 1000m of descent (I am lucky enough to live in the Vaucluse where if you aren't ascending at 7% you are descending at 7%). All that climbing works a chain pretty hard, though mine rarely get wet. I use KMC chains on Ultegra drivetrain. I change after around 3000 miles at which point my chain measuring tool has not dropped.  

Back in the day, I lived in Scotland and tried wax lube for a while. Chains lasted about 500 miles because the wax set hard as soon as it touched the chain, didn't penetrate, and peeled of on the first few rotations. I am now a believer in decent lube!

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hawkinspeter [3906 posts] 1 month ago
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I probably average around two chains a year and I usually get more pricey KMC chains (over 30 squid) though they are 11 speed ones. I'm around 90kg (should weigh myself as I'm probably heavier at the moment) and use fancy dry lubrication which keeps the chain pretty clean. I'm with ktache in aiming to change chains early to prevent too much wear on the cassette.

I doubt you'll notice much difference in wear with a more expensive chain so go with the cheaper chains unless you really love your bike.

I'm intrigued by Xena's use of yban self-lubricating chains - I'll probably give one a go the next time I'm due for a new chain.

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TheBillder [17 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

I think you are right about the consumable nature of this but I'd be tempted to run the chain until the tool drops (if that isn't too much of a Carry On idea).

I'm a little heavier than you, a little less diligent on cleaning than I ought to be and running 11 speed, and changed the chain when it got noisy as per BigTallPaul above.

At this point the tool was embarrassingly keen to show that the chain was very stretched, but the new one has made everything totally peachy.

Wet lube in use - a very old bottle of Finish Line Cross Country having finally offered its last drops, I have refilled with Asda 10w40 and will see what happens...

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BehindTheBikesheds [3322 posts] 1 month ago
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I've run the chain on my commute/utility bike (3x10) for 3 years, I don't do huge miles on it but it's year round use come rain or shine., I started to do the cleaning routine but what with the cassettes (Tiagra) been around £15 and the SRAM PC1030 costing £10 I don't see any sense in swapping it out even though I know it's worn to buggary.

If it's not an expensive bike I would personally run the chain and cassette until the chaon starts slipping. Mine still works fine and I'm down to 95kg from 105 in the last couple of years.

Either you're caning the chain or the chains are shit.

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Welsh boy [679 posts] 1 month ago
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Why are you guys quoting your body weight when talking about chains?  It is the power you generate which is important, not your lardyness.  I bet that little Columbian chap who won the tour weighs about the same as one of my bingo wings and chews up chains a whole lot faster than I do.  He probably generates the same power output from his left eyelid as I do from both of my legs combined so forget your weight, BMI is not an indicator of power and so chain wear rate.

It is also a stupid idea that 3 chains being rotated will reduce wear rate of your transmission, it wont.  Assuming you change your chain every 1000 miles, by the time you put your third chain back on for it's second outing your cassette will have done 5000 miles so you are trying to match one component with 1000 miles on it with another with 5000 on it.  It's a bit silly to expect that combination to run smoothly isn't it.

In answer to the OP, I wouldn't go for an expensive chain, buy a KMC or SRAM for a couple of pounds, ride it for a winter, bin it and put a new one on for the summer.  Next year change our cassette and chain at the same time.

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Organon [321 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

If 70kg is heavy, lord help the rest of us, (I'm 90kg.)  Can anyone tell me were I can find these KMC chains for just £8.00? (11 speed) I surprised myself to find I have done 3500km on current one and it is only about 25% on the Park Tool, think I will need a new one for the winter. I've waited too long in the past and the deadly chonk-chonk of slippage is an awful feeling.

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Griff500 [432 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
Welsh boy wrote:

Why are you guys quoting your body weight when talking about chains?  It is the power you generate which is important........ BMI is not an indicator of power and so chain wear rate.

I don't think it's that simple. You can put the same power through a chain by running a high cadence in a low gear, as you do with a low cadence in a high gear. To say that chain wear will be the same in each case just because power is the same doesn't stack up.

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wycombewheeler [1365 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
Griff500 wrote:
Welsh boy wrote:

Why are you guys quoting your body weight when talking about chains?  It is the power you generate which is important........ BMI is not an indicator of power and so chain wear rate.

I don't think it's that simple. You can put the same power through a chain by running a high cadence in a low gear, as you do with a low cadence in a high gear. To say that chain wear will be the same in each case just because power is the same doesn't stack up.

and rider weight is even less relevant.

of more importance are

conditions (wet/dry/grit/mud)

frequency of cleaning

cross chaining

shifting

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wycombewheeler [1365 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
Welsh boy wrote:

It is also a stupid idea that 3 chains being rotated will reduce wear rate of your transmission, it wont.  Assuming you change your chain every 1000 miles, by the time you put your third chain back on for it's second outing your cassette will have done 5000 miles so you are trying to match one component with 1000 miles on it with another with 5000 on it.  It's a bit silly to expect that combination to run smoothly isn't it.

I think it's widely accepted that the lfe of a casette is more than the life of a chain, I estimate about 3 chains per casette if you use a chain tool, rather than waiting for shifting ti become iffy.

so since a new chain will work fine with a casette that has 4000km on it, why would a chain with 2000km not be at least as good on the same casette. Chains stretch because they wear, they wear because they are constantly being bent and straightened in the presence of grit. Casettes wear when used with poorly fitting chains. 

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AfterPeak [161 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

As others have said it is more about the time of the year that effects how long a chain lasts. Changing my chain in spring I might get 2500-3000 miles out of it. Chain on in the winter I probably get 1500 no matter how much you try and keep it clean/oiled.

 

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hawkinspeter [3906 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
Welsh boy wrote:

Why are you guys quoting your body weight when talking about chains?  It is the power you generate which is important, not your lardyness.  I bet that little Columbian chap who won the tour weighs about the same as one of my bingo wings and chews up chains a whole lot faster than I do.  He probably generates the same power output from his left eyelid as I do from both of my legs combined so forget your weight, BMI is not an indicator of power and so chain wear rate.

It is also a stupid idea that 3 chains being rotated will reduce wear rate of your transmission, it wont.  Assuming you change your chain every 1000 miles, by the time you put your third chain back on for it's second outing your cassette will have done 5000 miles so you are trying to match one component with 1000 miles on it with another with 5000 on it.  It's a bit silly to expect that combination to run smoothly isn't it.

In answer to the OP, I wouldn't go for an expensive chain, buy a KMC or SRAM for a couple of pounds, ride it for a winter, bin it and put a new one on for the summer.  Next year change our cassette and chain at the same time.

I thought this was some kind of weight-watchers thread.

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Griff500 [432 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
Welsh boy wrote:

Why are you guys quoting your body weight when talking about chains?  It is the power you generate which is important

I note you don't understand the relationship between power, energy, and time. ie in climbing a hill, a 100kg rider gains 25% more potential energy than an 80kg rider, and therefore needs to put the same power level as the lighter rider through the chain for 25% longer to reach the top, or 25% more power for the same time, hence more chain wear. Same applies to acceleration - at 20mph the heavier rider has gained a greater kinetic energy, and therefore needs to put more power / same power for longer, to reach that speed. Greater weight, greater chain wear, every time. 

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ibr17xvii [441 posts] 1 month ago
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I change my chain as soon as it hits 0.5 on the chain checker.

I clean it probably once a week depending on mileage & contrary to KMC advice about solvents I've always used either Morgan Blue or Muc Off degreaser & can usually get 3000-4000 miles of summer riding from it so as far as I can see doesn't do it any harm.

Can't see how you can clean your chain effectively without using some sort of solvent anyway.

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ibr17xvii [441 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
Organon wrote:

If 70kg is heavy, lord help the rest of us, (I'm 90kg.)  Can anyone tell me were I can find these KMC chains for just £8.00? (11 speed) I surprised myself to find I have done 3500km on current one and it is only about 25% on the Park Tool, think I will need a new one for the winter. I've waited too long in the past and the deadly chonk-chonk of slippage is an awful feeling.

OP has an 8 speed chain.

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roadbikepilgrim [6 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Everyone,

Thanks very much for all your input. I do change gear a lot, but I am very religious about not cross chaining. Its a triple crank and 8-speed chain.

I think that I shall just not think about miles done and whether I'm getting enough bang for my buck - £7 from Decathlon for an 8-Speed KMC chain is not much to pay, so two chains per year is fine.

https://www.decathlon.co.uk/kmc-z8-5-8-speed-bike-chain-id_699035.html

I'll ride for another six weeks or so until the tool has nearly dropped (narf narf) and then replace the chain :).

Cheers

roadbikepilgrim

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roadbikepilgrim [6 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

Everyone,

Thanks very much for all your input. I do change gear a lot, but I am very religious about not cross chaining. Its a triple crank and 8-speed chain.

I think that I shall just not think about miles done and whether I'm getting enough bang for my buck - £7 from Decathlon for an 8-Speed KMC chain is not much to pay, so two chains per year is fine.

https://www.decathlon.co.uk/kmc-z8-5-8-speed-bike-chain-id_699035.html

I'll ride for another six weeks or so until the tool has nearly dropped (narf narf) and then replace the chain :).

Cheers

roadbikepilgrim

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roadbikepilgrim [6 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes

Everyone,

Thanks very much for all your input. I do change gear a lot, but I am very religious about not cross chaining. Its a triple crank and 8-speed chain.

I think that I shall just not think about miles done and whether I'm getting enough bang for my buck - £7 from Decathlon for an 8-Speed KMC chain is not much to pay, so two chains per year is fine.

https://www.decathlon.co.uk/kmc-z8-5-8-speed-bike-chain-id_699035.html

I'll ride for another six weeks or so until the tool has nearly dropped (narf narf) and then replace the chain :).

Cheers

roadbikepilgrim

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Welsh boy [679 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
Griff500 wrote:
Welsh boy wrote:

Why are you guys quoting your body weight when talking about chains?  It is the power you generate which is important

I note you don't understand the relationship between power, energy, and time. ie in climbing a hill, a 100kg rider gains 25% more potential energy than an 80kg rider, and therefore needs to put the same power level as the lighter rider through the chain for 25% longer to reach the top, or 25% more power for the same time, hence more chain wear. Same applies to acceleration - at 20mph the heavier rider has gained a greater kinetic energy, and therefore needs to put more power / same power for longer, to reach that speed. Greater weight, greater chain wear, every time. 

So you are telling me that if I climb a hill slowly I will do more damage to a chain than someone like Bernal or G climbing that same hill very quickly.  Really?  Are you sure?

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Griff500 [432 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
Welsh boy wrote:
Griff500 wrote:
Welsh boy wrote:

Why are you guys quoting your body weight when talking about chains?  It is the power you generate which is important

I note you don't understand the relationship between power, energy, and time. ie in climbing a hill, a 100kg rider gains 25% more potential energy than an 80kg rider, and therefore needs to put the same power level as the lighter rider through the chain for 25% longer to reach the top, or 25% more power for the same time, hence more chain wear. Same applies to acceleration - at 20mph the heavier rider has gained a greater kinetic energy, and therefore needs to put more power / same power for longer, to reach that speed. Greater weight, greater chain wear, every time. 

So you are telling me that if I climb a hill slowly I will do more damage to a chain than someone like Bernal or G climbing that same hill very quickly.  Really?  Are you sure?

No, I never mentioned G or Bernal. I seriously doubt whether you could apply the same 400w as them however. What I said was clear. A heavy rider climbing at the same power as a lighter rider will put the same power through the chain for longer to get to the top, and therefore wears the chain more. I take it you didn't do physics at O level.

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Drinfinity [243 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes
Welsh boy wrote:
Griff500 wrote:
Welsh boy wrote:

Why are you guys quoting your body weight when talking about chains?  It is the power you generate which is important

 the same power level

So you are telling me that if I climb a hill slowly I will do more damage to a chain than someone like Bernal or G climbing that same hill very quickly.  Really?  Are you sure?

No, he was not telling you that. Hence ‘at the same power level’. 

You and Egan set off up Holme Moss, both watching your power meters and sticking to 200W. Assuming Egan is lighter than you, he will get to the top whilst you are still on the climb. So you carry on for another 5 minutes grinding away at the chain.

You ride down and have another race. This time, you stick right beside Egan all the way to the top (he probably needs to take it easy after all those beers with G). Your average power will be greater than his. Again, mashing your chain more.

Back down for one more effort. This time, I put a strain gauge on the driven length of the chains to measure their tension. I find yours is under greater tension, as it has to winch your greater weight up the hill. So more pressure between all those pins and rollers and teeth, grinding your drivetrain to swarf.

Finally you decide to take him on the sprint through Holmfirth. You both stamp on the pedals to accelerate your masses forwards. You are bending your cranks to get the force from your legs via the chain to the back wheel. Your greater mass requires you to bend those cranks and stretch that chain even more than Egan to get enough force to provide the same acceleration. Your chain goes ping as you cross the line together. Fortunately it’s outside The Wrinkled Stocking Tearoom, so you can pop in for a well deserved brew.

 

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Dangerous Dan [11 posts] 1 month ago
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I bought a "Tipsum" chain off eBay and all I can say is that my experience was bad.  This is the first time in 40+ years of chain drive vehicles that I have had a chain break at a rivet. 

The chain was very light and had a Diamond Like Carbon coating so I thought I would give it a try. With 12 days (maybe 200 miles) one of the links popped when I accelerated from a stop light.

The vendor did give me a full refund without any questions so no problems with them, but that chain was defective in design or manufacture.

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Welsh boy [679 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
Dangerous Dan wrote:

I bought a "Tipsum" chain off eBay and all I can say is that my experience was bad.  This is the first time in 40+ years of chain drive vehicles that I have had a chain break at a rivet. 

The chain was very light and had a Diamond Like Carbon coating so I thought I would give it a try. With 12 days (maybe 200 miles) one of the links popped when I accelerated from a stop light.

The vendor did give me a full refund without any questions so no problems with them, but that chain was defective in design or manufacture.

Wow, that is not good, I always thought that Hope made good quality products (I have been very impressed with their bottom brackets anyway).

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Dangerous Dan [11 posts] 1 month ago
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I am sorry if I left the impression that that was a Hope chain.  It was made by a company called Tipsum.  The Hope stuff I have on MTB and my tandem is high quality.  The Hope bag was handy to show the broken chain. 

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TheBillder [17 posts] 1 month ago
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I added my weight to my comment because I'm a total sheep and it had already been mentioned by the OP. But I do think that torque is relevant to the wear rate, and as a medium to large person* I'll need to put more force through the chain for longer up the climbs. Somewhere along the line there is surely a compromise between torque and cadence that is minimal for wear but no idea at what point. Gut feeling is that cadence will be a lot higher than anyone actually pedals.

* I do not for a moment mean to imply that I communicate with the spirit world for a single heavy individual. Just in case anyone misread that.